Next week, LAFC and Club Leon face off in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16. Here are three things to watch for.
Next week, the CONCACAF Champions League begins. And perhaps the most high-profile Round of 16 fixture will take place between Los Angeles FC and Club Leon.
It is by far the most intriguing pairing of all and is sure to provide plenty of end-to-end action. The premier MLS team looking to break the American curse in the CCL taking on a Mexican giant. It is what the competition is made for.
With the stage set for an exciting match-up, it is time to take a look at three things to keep an eye on in the opening leg of the two-leg round.
3. Can Leon stop Carlos Vela?
LAFC’s star player, Carlos Vela, has never made an appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League before. The Mexican goalscorer has dominated Major League Soccer but has never been tested in the regional competition to date. Can he carry over his consistent goal-scoring record from domestic play onto the international stage?
Having carried the load of the goal-scoring duties for LAFC last season, Vela will have to be at his best to compete against Leon. The task at hand for Leon will be to slow down the playmaker. When Vela is taken out of the game, LAFC have struggled to generate high-quality chances and their finishing has let them down from other players.
Leon can really give LAFC problems in this opening leg if they can stop Vela from operating freely. They have had a decent start defensively to the season and will hope to carry over their success to the CCL. The key to stopping LAFC is stopping Vela. Many teams have tried; few have succeeded. Can Leon buck the trend?